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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Japanese-Chinese Security Relations. The Japanese Way of Engagement

March 22, 2001 / 18.30

Reinhard Drifte (Professor, University of Newcastle upon Tyne)

The Japanese-Chinese relationship is one of the most important variables in the formation of a new strategic environment in the Asia Pacific region and one that has global implications. The management of China’s rise to great power status by Japan will be of crucial importance for regional and global stability and for the access to the most populous market of the future. My presentation critically examines the assumptions and operational feasibility of Japan’s dualistic China policy, generally referred to as ‘engagement policy’. It intends to steer China towards a peaceful and sustainable path by assisting it with economic policy tools (trade, investment, technology transfer, ODA) while hedging against any Chinese strategic breakout or policy failure through the bilateral military deterrent with the US as well as political front-building in Asia. For this purpose I will look at Japan’s changing security perception of China since 1989 and how Japan has been reacting to these challenges at various policy levels (unilateral, bilateral, multilateral). I conclude that Japan has to find a balance between reinforcing China’s assumption of international relations being a ‘zero sum game’ through the containment element of engagement policy, China merely trying to win time for a more forceful regional policy later, and the roller coaster of US China policy.

Reinhard Drifte is Chair of Japanese Studies, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. He has published widely on Japanese foreign and security policies, security and arms control issues in Northeast Asia, and EU-East Asia relations. His most recent books are Japan’s quest for a permanent Security Council seat. A matter of pride or justice? (Macmillan/St. Antony’s Series, London/Oxford 1999; Japanese version: Iwanami Shoten, Tokyo 2000) and Japan’s foreign policy in the 1990s. From economic superpower to what power? (Macmillan/St Antony’s Series, London/Oxford 1996; Japanese version: Kindai Bungeisha, Tokyo 1998).